The calm he sought was not quickly coming. The fight was driving more furiously as the Senator pressed his attacks. He would force Obi-Wan back into defense, then pause and let Obi-Wan recover just long enough to make the young Jedi think he might have a chance.

Then the attack would come again, fast and oh so close to connecting. Obi-Wan could feel the singe of the red lightsaber's blade as it passed too close to his skin or clothing.

When he realised the other was still -- after several minutes' battle -- toying with him, he felt his first conviction of defeat.

He did not let it stay his hand. Obi-Wan continued to raise his own saber to defend, still trying to move to a position where he might make an attack. But he could see, and feel, his own defeat coming.

He accepted the knowledge, and continued to fight. The saber blades became blurs, until only those Force-trained could follow their movements. Obi-Wan felt himself falter as he stepped, and the searing burn of the lightsaber on his arm pushed him back.

Toppling onto the ground, he found himself staring up into the delighted face of the dark lord.

There was no fear. He watched as the red blade rose, shining in the darkened room. For a moment he saw everything as if stilled -- the blade, his opponent, his own lightsaber on the floor with the blade switched off. He felt his heartbeat once, and raised his hand to reach out for his saber, knowing it would be too late, but he had to continue fighting. Trying to fight.

The instant he arrived, Obi-Wan felt it. Why he hadn't felt him approaching, he didn't know. But suddenly he was there, almost in the room -- the Senator looked up only as Master Jinn came into the room, robe long gone and lightsaber coming up as he ran forward.

Obi-Wan scooted back as the two met in the center of the room. Sabers clashed and hissed as they met again, swirling and turning in rhythmic speed. Obi-Wan got to his feet quickly, intending to aid his Master who had arrived just in time to aid him. Before he could take more than two steps forward, the Senator flung a small table at Qui-Gon and sped away.

Obi-Wan started after, but found himself facing a door which had locked firmly behind it's escaped owner. The palmlock was flashing, ignoring Obi-Wan's attempts to override it.

"He is gone." Obi-Wan felt his Master's hand on his shoulder as he spoke.

"Master--" He turned, only now realising how the fight had washed his mind clean of the drinks he'd had. There were questions to be asked, questions to be answered.

Qui-Gon opened his arms, and Obi-Wan rushed forward, into them.

"Thank you."

As the battle-rush left him, there in the safety of his Master's presence, Obi-Wan tried to realise the awareness he'd been so calm to see, in the height of battle. He had so nearly died, and for all his training, all the philosophy and way of life they'd taught him since childhood, he'd nearly died with a single, overpowering regret.

"I love you," he whispered, into the sweat-stained tunic of his Master's. He did not wonder at the speed with which Qui-Gon Jinn must have come to this place, from however far away the Temple was. He did not wonder at the fear which might have spiked the adrenaline flow.

He buried his face in Qui-Gon's chest, and whispered it again as the tension eased. "I love you." He closed his eyes, and felt the world stand still as Qui-Gon's arms squeezed him tighter.

"I love you, too."

the end

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